For more than 100 years, Victoria’s Maternal and Child Health service has been helping to give babies and young children the best start in life.
Today more than 827000 consultations are held with families each year across the state by more than 1100 trained Maternal and Child Health nurses.
Seymour’s Maternal and Child Health nurse Glenda Zanko has been in the role for eight years, and said the connection and relationships they were able to build with local families was so important.
‘‘That’s probably been my favourite part of the role, working with the families in the Seymour area and building up that relationship and rapport with the families and helping to support them with their children,’’ Ms Zanko said.
The Maternal and Child Health service includes free regular check-ups and health support for children at key developmental stages up to the age of six years, and is relied on by parents to ensure the ongoing health of their children.
‘‘We do developmental checks, we weigh the babies, take their measurements, but most importantly we are here to support the families with anything,’’ Ms Zanko said.
‘‘A lot of families around here these days don’t have the exteneed family networks so we’re a one-stop-shop where they can come and get that support.’’
MCH nurses are certainly well-trained in their craft. In fact, it takes five years of intensive study to take on the role.
‘‘You need to be a qualified nurse and a midwife, and then you also do another 12 months of study to become a maternal and child health nurse,’ Ms Zanko said.
‘‘It takes five years of study and three degrees to do our job.’’
Mitchell Shire Council has nine Maternal and Child Health centres, including in Seymour, Broadford, Puckapunyal and Pyalong.
Leanne Crough is responsible for co-ordinating the service in the shire, and says her team of nurses are doing wonderful things for local families.
‘‘My role is more strategic, so I’m constantly looking at how we can improve things and I engage with different agencies and different services to see what we could bring in locally,’’ she said.
‘‘We don’t have a lot here (in Mitchell Shire), we have to go out of the area to get a lot of the services but we’re trying really hard to bring services in to Mitchell Shire.’’
The vital service is a statewide, free, universally accessible health, wellbeing and development service for children from birth.